Posted in Book Reviews

The Girls

‘Asshole,’ she muttered, but she wasn’t really mad. That was part of being a girl-you were resigned to whatever feedback you’d get. If you got mad, you were crazy, and if you didn’t react, you were a bitch. The only thing you could do was smile from the corner they’d backed you into. Implicate yourself in the joke even if the joke was always on you.

The Girls

Author: Emma Cline          Genre: Fiction          Pages: 355

When I first started this book I had no idea what it was about, I didn’t read any reviews or summaries. This is rare for me, I usually like to know what I’m getting into when reading a book. And the title doesn’t give much away as far as plot goes.

The main character is Evie Boyd, a girl in her early teens living in Northern California, and takes place the summer before she is to start at a new boarding school. I personally did not find much to relate to in Evie. She seemed to be sulking around in self-pity because of her parent’s divorce, her lack of friends, adolescent angst, etc. However, I think that Cline created a very believable character in Evie. It was easy to see how she could get caught up in the free and chaotic life led by ‘the girls’ and why she would want to be a part of that, after living what she felt was a sheltered life for so long.

That was our mistake, I think. One of many mistakes. To believe that boys were acting with a logic that we could someday understand. To believe that their actions had any meaning beyond thoughtless impulse.

Evie is struggling to understand the world and her place in it. Cline draws you into her world where everything is baffling to Evie. The actions of others, events she can’t control and even her own decisions. Throughout the novel, Evie makes choices based on impulse continuously, and she seems to take the consequences passively and without much feeling. Evie is attracted to Suzanne, a strong yet damaged member of the cult that Evie gets involved with over the summer. Evie seems confused by her attraction to Susanne, but this doesn’t quell her obsession or stop her from pursuing a relationship (in any form) with Susanne.

This book is dark at times, and the writing style is not something I am typically drawn to. BUT reading books that challenge me one thing I love to do (every once in a while), and this book was most definitely a challenge to get through.

What is a book you have read lately that has challenged you to think outside of the box?

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Posted in Book Reviews

Tell The Wolves I’m Home

He pushed himself up from the old blue chair he always painted in, wincing as he held on to it for a second, steadying himself. He took a step away and I could see that, other than the green tie at his waist, the only color Finn had was in the little splotches of paint all over his white smock. The colors of me and Greta. I felt like grabbing the paintbrush right out of his hand so I could color him in, paint him back to his old self.

Tell the wolves...

Author: Carol Rifka Brunt          Genre: Fiction          Pages: 355

June Elbus is quiet, extremely shy and thinks that her older sister Greta hates her. The only person who really understands her is her Uncle Finn and he has AIDS. I think the brilliance of Brunt’s writing in this novel is that she keeps you guessing. June has so many questions about her uncle and his relationship with his ‘special friend’ Toby, her questions draw you into the story. Jealousy is a major theme in this book. June’s mother is jealous of her daughter’s ability to grieve for her uncle while she is not able to. Greta and Toby are both jealous of June’s relationship with Finn. June is jealous of her sister who seems to have everything figured out, and of Toby who seems to have a much deeper and closer relationship with her uncle than she does. It’s basically one big web of jealousy and misunderstanding that is unraveled throughout the book.

‘June, nobody knew anything about AIDS. Do you understand? There wasn’t even a word for it when Finn and I met.’ ‘Then why does my whole family think you gave it to him? Why would they say that?’  Toby tipped his head forward and closed his eyes. He took a deep breath before opening them. ‘Because that’s what we decided to tell them.’

In 1987, AIDS was still widely misunderstood. June’s family is unwilling to talk about Finn’s disease or his relationship with Toby, and I think this does June a great disservice. Danni (June’s mother) underestimates her daughter and what she can handle, mentally and emotionally. June is longing for closure after her uncle’s death but it seems that her family simply wants to move on and forget. June spends a great deal of the novel searching for answers and feeling like she has no one to turn to. But once she starts to open up to Toby she realizes that things are not always what they seem.

Don’t you know? That’s the secret. If you always make sure you’re exactly who you want to be, if you always make sure you only know the very best people, then you won’t care if you die tomorrow.

I would give this book 4 out of 5 stars. Reading it really did feel like untangling a web of secrets and misunderstandings and by the end of the book the loose ends were tied up and the damaged relationships were repaired. I would definitely recommend this book but make sure you have a box of tissues ready!


Images:
  • Tell the wolves i’m home. Digital image. Amazon. 13 Mar 2017. www.amazon.com
Posted in Book Reviews

My Top 5 Movies of 2017


I love watching movies! So I decided to do a post about the top movies I’ve seen so far this year. Not all of these movies actually came out in 2017 so I’m a little late in seeing some of them.
Here they are:

  1. The Edge of 17-Hailee Steinfeld is incredible in this movie! She is so convincing in her role as a 17 year old girl stuggling with all the ups and downs of high school and what a confusing time it can be. This is definitely an emotional film that deals with a lot of tough issues but worth watching for sure no matter your age. Woody Harrelson also does an excellent job as the quirky and grumpy teacher who Steinfeld confides in. The Edge of 17 trailer
  2. Moonlight-This movie won several Oscars, and for good reason. Though it was difficult to watch, it revealed many of the struggles surrounding poverty and drugs, and how easy it can be to get wrapped up the vicious cycle surrounding both. The acting was incredible and the story was heart wrenching. Moonlight trailer
  3. Beauty and the Beast-Seeing this live action version of beauty and the beast with Emma Watson was simply delightful. They stayed true to the original story and had all the original songs, along with a few new ones. Watson was dazzling as Belle and all the other characters did the originals justice as well. If you are a child of the 90’s prepare for the memories to come flooding back to you. Beauty and the Beast trailer
  4. Arrival-Science Fiction is not usually a genre I am drawn to but decided to watch this one based on a few recommendations. Amy Adams did a wonderful job as Professor Louise Banks, who is struggling to interpret and translate the language of alien visitors who have appeared on Earth. Throughout the movie, Banks is confronted with her past and future and is forced to consider whether if given the chance she would do things differently. Arrival trailer
  5. La La Land– Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are a perfect match in this musical. Sebastian (Gosling) and Mia (Stone) are drawn to each other, both struggling to make a living doing what they love. Throughout the movie they are forced to decide which is more important, true love or following your dreams. La La Land trailer

What are your favorite movies from the past year?

Posted in Book Reviews

Vanishing Acts

The policeman begins to push him through the doorway. I have a hundred questions: Why are you doing this to him? How could you be so mistaken? But the one that come out, even as my throat is closing tight as a sealed drum, surprises me. ‘Who is Bethany Matthews?’ My father does not take his gaze off of me. ‘You were,’ he says.

Author: Jodi Picoult      Genre: Fiction      Length: 418 pages

vanishing-acts

As usual, Jodi Picoult does not disappoint in this page turner. I could not put it down! Picoult follows her usual style of writing from multiple viewpoints giving each character a unique and compelling voice. I am drawn to Picoult’s writing because she always gives her readers so much to ponder. She has a way of presenting moral issues that makes the reader wonder how they would handle the situation.

Delia Hopkins works in search and rescue with her bloodhound Greta in rural New Hampshire. One afternoon a police officer knocks on her door and tells her that her father is under arrest for kidnapping, and she is the one he kidnapped. Throughout the novel Delia realizes that there are many complicated reasons for why her father took her away, and she is confronted with the realization that there is not always a clear right and wrong choice in life. The book is also written from the perspective of Delia’s father Andrew Hopkins, her fiance Eric Talcott and her best friend Fitzwilliam MacMurray (Fitz). Each of the characters in this story are so real and relatable that the reader can imagine each one as a friend or family member that who is grapple with tough decisions.

Delia’s life is complicated further by the fact that her fiance Eric also becomes her father’s lawyer when he is arrested for kidnapping. Delia, Andrew and Eric travel to Arizona where Delia was born and where her father took her away years ago, this is where Andrew must await trial in prison. Fitz appears in Pheonix as well to support Delia and Eric, but it turns out he has ulterior motives that have nothing to do with his friendship with Delia. These four characters struggle to trust each other and reconcile their new reality with what they thought they knew.

Another thing I love about Picoult’s books is how she waits until the very end, I mean the last few pages, to tie up loose ends. Even then she manages to leave you hanging, wondering what each character could have done differently to bring about an alternate ending. Throughout the whole novel I was wondering how things could possibly work out and how Picoult would fill in the plot holes, but fill them she did and by the end I was satisfied.

Posted in Book Reviews

The Woman Who Breathed Two Worlds by Selina Siak Chin Yoke

the-woman-who-breathed-two-worlds

I gave this book 5 stars on Goodreads, and I could not put it down for the five days it took me to read! I have a bad habit of skipping sentences or entire paragraphs when I’m reading a book that I’m really into, so I’m afraid I may have missed some details. One reason I loved this book is that it tells one woman’s entire life story. It follows her from childhood all the way up to her death. Books like this remind me that there are so many ups and downs in life. Just because you are heartbroken or questioning one moment does not mean you won’t have moments of joy and clarity later on, maybe sooner than you expect. Chye Hoon (the main character) is a strong and courageous woman who is willing to sacrifice much to keep her family happy and safe. As a child she is stubborn and passionate, always wanting to explore and learn. As she grows she accepts that there are certain expectations that her family has for her, while she is not always able to choose her own path she accepts her destiny with grace and always makes the best of every situation.

This book was eye opening for me. I grew up in a very western household, very individualistic and I was able to choose my own path from a very young age. While my family had certain expectations (i.e. be a good person, work hard. etc.) I was always encouraged to be myself and follow my heart. I realize that other cultures can be very different. There are many families where emphasis is put not on the individual but on the group. I can see the value in this way of going about things, and Chye Hoon did as well. Throughout the story Chye Hoon is always putting herself second to her family’s needs, and in this way she sacrifices her own needs and desires for those of the group. During this time period, the West was beginning to have a greater influence on the rest of the world and Chye Hoon’s children began to take interest in Western values and trends. Chye Hoon is heartbroken when she realizes that her children, and many of her peers, are losing interest in the values and traditions of her ancestors. Eventually Chye Hoon realizes that she will have to adjust as well, to her changing family and their ideals, or she will lose them. Her adaptability and humility in these situations just made me love her more.

I would definitely recommend this book, it took me to a place I have never been and opened my mind. And isn’t that what great books are all about?